Press Releases

Health, Wellness Task Force to Chart Course for Healthy Lifestyles

State of Tennessee Press Release; Oct. 24, 2011:

Haslam Announces Members of Health and Wellness Task Force  

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the 16 members of his Health and Wellness Task Force, a group charged with developing an initiative to improve Tennessee’s health status by leveraging private and public resources.

Tennessee currently ranks 42nd out of 50 in overall health, according to America’s Health Rankings, an improvement from previous rankings, but health care costs in the private and public sectors continue to hinder potential job growth in the state while also threatening budgets.

The commitment and resources of a broad group of stakeholders including schools, employers and community planners, are required for significant and, equally as important, sustained improvements in nutrition, physical activity and tobacco use rates.

“This group’s mission is to chart a course to promote and support healthy lifestyles for Tennesseans with the ultimate goal of healthier citizens, reducing the burden of chronic disease on our state,” Haslam said. “The task force will focus on meaningful ways to promote healthy choices and personal responsibility to decrease rates of illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.”

University of Tennessee Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. John Lacey III is chair of the 16-member task force that will:

  • Focus on the top preventable causes of chronic disease and disability in the state
  • Develop metrics to measure success;
  • Identify promising strategies;
  • Serve as advocates for change; and
  • Form partnerships and garner resources necessary to reach established goals.

The members are:

  • Healthcare Corporation of America Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Richard Bracken;
  • Regional Medical Center CEO Reggie Coopwood, MD;
  • DeRoyal Industries CEO Pete DeBusk;
  • Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH;
  • Zycron CEO Darrell Freeman;
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Tennessee CMO Inga Himelright, MD;
  • Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman;
  • Methodist Hospital Vice President Cato Johnson;
  • TC Thompson Children’s Hospital Medical Director Alan Kohrt, MD;
  • TennCare CMO Wendy Long, MD, MPH;
  • Tennessee Medical Association Michael Munch, MD;
  • Pershing Yoakley & Associates Pres. Ed Pershing;
  • Healthways, Inc. Senior VP Vickie Shepard;
  • Mental Health Commissioner Doug Varney; and
  • Mountain States Health System CEO Dennis Vonderfecht.

The task force held its first meeting today in Nashville.


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